2014 — The Year in Books

What were the best, most intriguing, most surprising, most entertaining… books you read in 2014? I spent the year mixing it up, with books put out by indie authors & by conventional publishers, and in a wide range of genres, from detective stories and historical dramas to steampunk and all stripes of the supernatural.


Highlights of the year include:


“I Am Livia” by Phyllis T. Smith

In “I Claudius” Livia is a villainous schemer, but this time the story is told from her point-of-view and I got happily lost in her version of Imperial Rome.


“The Crime of Julian Wells” by Thomas H. Cook

It’s been a few years since I read one of Cook’s masterpieces of mystery fiction. Having met him at a mystery conference years ago, I downloaded this on an impulse and it is brilliant — depressing and frustrating, but brilliant. If you need an action packed read, skip it. But for a mystery of the mind, it can’t be beat.


“The HooDoo Detective” by Kirsten Weiss

This is just FUN! The latest in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal detective stories, HooDoo is the best so far. I enjoyed the New Orleans setting, the quirky take on vampires and the riff on reality TV.


“The Fracking King” by James Browning

How often do you stumble on a literary cocktail containing humor, adolescent angst and fracking? Not often. This is an entertaining book with a disturbing subject as the backdrop.


“Running Before the Midnight Bell” by Jonathan Broughton

This is a contemporary police procedural/detective novel with credible characters, a vivid setting and a few unusual twists.


“Bone in the Throat” by Anthony Bourdain

One part backstage at a restaurant, two parts drugs & mobsters, with a generous pour of food porn. The mystery is set in the 80’s in and around the restaurant scene in New York and the celebrity chef/author turns out to be a really good storyteller!


“By it’s Cover” by Donna Leon

I’m a big Donna Leon fan and this time Inspector Brunetti is investigating crimes set in a rare books library. As usual, the inspector’s lunch & dinner breaks make me hungry for Italian food and long for a trip to Venice.


“Net Switch” by Denise Baer

This was a roller coaster down a rabbit hole. It’s a thinking reader’s brand of suspense.


I dipped into some classics, too. I found myself reading “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll out loud. It’s a hoot! When you need to cheer up, just read a few stanzas. All-in-all — even with a record number of dreadful books I stopped reading a few chapters in — 2014 was a good year for books!



  1. My new book passion this year turned out to be audiobooks, celebrity memoirs in particular! Who knew? Glad to see Denise’s book on this list as well.

    • Candy Korman

      Really!? Audiobooks… Maybe I should look (or listen) into them for my gym time. I usually listen to the BBC news on the local NPR station. The news can be pretty depressing. Maybe a celebrity memoir would be good for a change?

      Thanks again for Net Switch. Denise Baer’s new book definitely deserves an audience!

  2. This is great! Thank you so much for putting me on the list. I’m glad you enjoyed Net Switch, and I appreciate you sharing it with others. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years.

  3. Steve

    I listen to celebrity memoirs on audio when flying. I got hooked by Valerie Bertinelli’s. I grew up with her on TV and, as many males my age, was an admirer. The genre, read by the author, somehow fits with coach class flying.

    The only new (newly published) book I read this year was The Undertaking, by Audrey Magee. Very interesting, but I don’t know how I’d rate it.

    • Candy Korman

      I’m fascinated by getting not one, but two comments about celebrity audio memoirs… wow… a genre within a genre within a technology that I must check out.

      But getting back to 2014 a year in books… old, new, indie, conventional — all good from my point-of-view. The phenomenon that confuses and disturbs me is people NOT reading at all, or only reading from a narrow selection. I know we live in a world of fragmented markets, but if you live on fashion magazines alone (or romance novels, or sports memoirs, or… fill in the blank…) and never venture into other reading material, your world gets very small, very quickly.

      I’m curious about Valerie Bertinelli. We all watched her grow up on TV an that builds a weird and deep, if one-sided, connection. Maybe I’ll check out her book?

      • Candy Korman

        I went very quickly from infuriated to fascinated. She was like a weird specimen in a lab. LOL! Better to laugh than to worry about narcissists!

        • Steve

          On to Jane Fonda! Ha ha! I bought it, but haven’t listened to it yet. Tracy Morgan was interesting. But back to your original topic.

          In 2014 I re-read a favorite author (Tom Robbins), was introduced to a famous author I had never previously heard of (Yukio Mishima), and started looking for books by award winning literary writers. Besides the enjoyment of reading, I am reading these as research. I am deep into my novel and it fits into the literary category, so I want to see what other literary authors sound and feel like.

          I don’t like to limit myself, so I try to read a range of topics and genres. I enjoy science fiction (old school like Robert Heinlein), am a huge Tolkien fan. the classics (Steinbeck), and my writer’s group’s genre fiction.